Natural Foods Merchandiser

Kids nutrition, convenience foods and special products flavor Expo West

When it comes to grocery, there’s a lot to digest at Expo. In preparation, here we offer a sneak peek at key trends and can’t-miss events to make your experience worthwhile—consider it an aperitif. Also, check out our daily itineraries for grocery-minded participants.

Special foods
“What we’re seeing drive consumers to healthy and natural products are special diets,” says Nancy Coulter-Parker, editor-in-chief of the consumer magazine Delicious Living. “Gluten free has seen huge growth and consumers will continue to look for products in this arena.” Other items to keep on the order sheet? Anything that tailors to special dietary needs: vegetarian/vegan, lactose intolerance, cholesterol reduction and high blood pressure. For more on what drives women’s purchasing decisions and how consumers define “healthy,” head to the Delicious Living and iVillage presentation “Redefining Healthy-What Women Want” on Saturday, March 12, 12:30 to 2 p.m. See also our Food Allergies Guide.

Kids’ nutrition
As more health-conscious GenXers prepare meals for their brood, kids’ nutrition takes center stage. “Parents are looking for fun snacks and foods their kids will actually eat but that also offer health benefits,” says Scott Sherpe, Expo West’s marketing manager. For more, check out NFM's Kids' Snacks Guide.

Convenience foods
In response to the needs of the growing numbers of consumers who are dining out less and looking for healthy at-home meals, Adam Andersen, Expo West show manager, expects to see more convenience foods on the show floor. “We’ve seen an at least 10 percent increase in these exhibitors this year,” he says. Think grab-and-go foods made with alternative sugars and less salt. Read our "Bring in the Chef" story to learn more about new chef-prepared packaged meals.

Ethical initiatives
In addition to dietary considerations, consumers want products that support the causes they believe in. “You have to have sustainable packaging, green initiatives and be a great-tasting or -looking product,” Sherpe says. For more on packaging, drop in on “Teach an Old Box New Tricks: Innovations in Packaging and Branding” on Thursday, March 11, 2:30 to 4 p.m. Listen to a podcast with Anne Bedarf of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition to learn more about the green packaging movement.

Natural living
Beyond food and beverages, The Natural Living Pavilion promises to be a huge display of environmental cleaners, gifts, bedding, textiles, furniture and more. “This year, the offerings have doubled,” Andersen says. Green-living expert Sara Snow will delve further into this trend at “The Next 30 Years of Naturals” on Thursday, March 11, 12:30 to 2 p.m. Learn more about what green cleaning claims mean now here.

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